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Chargers Push SD for Downtown Stadium

SAN DIEGO (CN) - The San Diego Chargers said Tuesday they will focus on getting a mixed-use stadium and convention center built in downtown San Diego, and want a ballot initiative for the project on the November ballot.

In a statement posted on the team's website, the Chargers said they have spent the month since the NFL owners' decision to move the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles and keep the Chargers in San Diego evaluating the top stadium proposals in San Diego.

NFL team owners voted 30-2 on Jan. 12 to move the Rams and give the Chargers the option to join the team at the Inglewood stadium within a year.

The Chargers said they have met with city and county leaders, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and County Supervisor Ron Roberts. The team said the merits of a Mission Valley stadium the city has promoted just can't compare to the potential "entertainment and sports district" a downtown stadium would create.

"The multi-use facility, when combined with Petco Park, the existing convention center, the Gaslamp Quarter and a revitalized East Village would create an unparalleled entertainment and sports district that will host Super Bowls and will ideally be a permanent home for Comic-Con and a Comic-Con museum," the team said in the online statement.

According to the Chargers, their research demonstrates voters are more likely to approve a multi-use facility that "would generate economic activity on hundreds of days per year."

Freeing up the existing Mission Valley location will also allow the stadium to be used by local universities such as San Diego State University and UC San Diego, according to the team.

The team plans to collaborate with the existing citizen's initiative led by former San Diego City Council member Donna Frye and JMI Realty, with the goal of winning voter approval for a downtown stadium in the November general election.

But in a joint statement released shortly after the Chargers' announcement, Faulconer and Roberts cautioned a ballot measure that raises taxes for the stadium must be approved by 2/3 of San Diego voters and called that fact "an extremely high hurdle to clear."

"We want the Chargers to remain in San Diego. After consulting with numerous experts on stadium financing and conducting a large-scale public outreach effort last year, we proposed a straight-forward plan to finance a modern NFL stadium at the existing Mission Valley site. Most experts we've talked to have concluded that building a stadium downtown - on land not owned by either the city or the Chargers - would increase costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and take years longer to complete," the mayor and supervisor said in the statement.

The Mission Valley plan favored by the city and county would build a new stadium without raising taxes.

At a press conference held by Chargers special advisor Fred Maas, he revealed the team's talks with the city and county should have tipped them off to its plan.

"We've had ongoing meetings, they knew what our thinking was," Maas said.

The downtown land the Chargers are currently looking to build on is owned by 11 different people and companies, Maas said.

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